An emotional Hossein Vafaei took victory in the 2022 Snooker Shoot Out on Sunday, beating Mark Williams in the final at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.
The 27 year-old, who landed the top prize of £50,000, becomes the first player from Iran to capture a ranking event title.
Vafaei undoubtdely produced the best snooker of anyone throughout the fast-paced event, compiling a magnificent 123 century break in his opening fixture that earned him an additional £5,000 for the highest break of the competition.
Additional important contributions helped him to steer his way to glory, including a crucial break of 54 in the semi-finals after his opponent Liang Wenbo suffered an outrageous miscue when on course for victory.
In the title-deciding affair, Vafaei allowed British Open champion Williams just one shot – the break-off – as he potted an excellent long red to launch his tournament-winning run of 71.
Success provides many potential rewards, with a place in the Players Championship guaranteed and a possible invitation to the prestigious Champion of Champions later in the year.
A dominant force on the amateur circuit early on in his career, Vafaei’s early professional years were hampered by complicated visa issues so it will be interesting to see whether he’ll be able to build on this and progress towards the top 16.
The former world amateur champion dedicated his triumph to his grandma, who sadly passed away on the eve of the Shoot Out but inspired him toward achieving his landmark triumph.
“It’s such a big achievement for me,” Hossein Vafaei, who rises to number 23 on the official world rankings list told the World Snooker Tour.
“It’s like a dream come true for me and all the youngsters in Iran so they can see that everything is possible, it doesn’t matter where you are, it doesn’t matter how much trouble you have – if you want something, you can take it.”
“I’ve been working very hard. Everyone who is around me knows how hard I’ve been working for the tournaments, and in the past few years if you see how many times Mark Williams beats me in the semi-final, so thank God one time I came away with victory.
“All of those wins give me lots of confidence to start believing that I can do something in this game. Before I was thinking it, but in my mind it wasn’t near and I was always thinking about the future.
“With this trophy, who knows how far I can go on the tour, so I’m so happy that I’ve done it.
“The first thing when I came to the tournament I nearly pulled out, because I was in my room crying for one hour for my grandma, my mother was crying, and everyone in my family was crying.
“But when I came, I didn’t care about anything. When you lose something meaningful to you and it’s very hard for you, I don’t know but an energy came to me. I don’t know how to explain it.
“That was very sad news for me, but the people around me told me to just win it for your grandma. I was thinking to do that, and I’ve done it.”
Featured photo credit: WST